Sunday, July 29, 2018

Investigation: Walberg Lies to US about His Sources

Link to PDF of this Report: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1qejgVBI16ePUS3lfh5x1H7KePlckgeNd/view?usp=sharing

Image from Coffee Hour in Adrian, MI on March 18, 2017

Summary

            The purpose of this investigative report is to identify a document about health care that US Congress member Tim Walberg read to constituents in March 2017, which he claimed on three occasions was produced by The CBO. It was not produced by The CBO. It was produced by the lobby group Susan B. Anthony List. Some of the information in the document and Walberg’s related statements to it are also false, such as the services that Planned Parenthood provides, compared with the services provided by Community Health Centers. The community health centers in District 7 do not provide the “full gamut” of care as Walberg claimed to us. 

            This investigation also shows that it is a habit for Walberg to read aloud from documents, and lie to the public about their sources. On one occasion, during the Planned Parenthood hearing in September 2015, Walberg read from a document produced by Alliance Defending Freedom, and claimed that he had gathered the information from the sources cited in that ADF document. ADF is recognized by the SPLC as a hate group. Walberg did not credit ADF for his information. In another example, for at least seven years Walberg has carried around a health care flow chart produced by GOP members of the Joint Economic Committee. Walberg frequently pulls out that chart to show to the public. At two Coffee Hour events in August 2017 Walberg lied to us by saying that the chart was produced by The CBO, just as he did with the Susan B. Anthony List document.

Tim Walberg’s Initial Claims to Constituents:
Saturday, March 18, 2017
Coffee Hour
Adrian, MI
Video (41:41 mark):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adCMfVKgYi8
Walberg: “All of the funding that goes away from Planned Parenthood, or any organization like that, that continues to do abortions - and that’s their choice, but the law of the land says we can’t fund that, so all of those monies will go to community health centers, and that’s an expansion of funds for those centers, and as I mentioned before, those centers do a full - in fact, let me read you what they do.

[Walbergpicked up the paper and read aloud from it. He periodically looked up and paraphrased and added his own comments]

Walberg: “Planned Parenthood does not do such things as mammograms, prenatal care –[Constituent Uproar] Planned Parenthood does not do mammograms. The only thing Planned Parenthood does –[Constituent Uproar] The only thing that Planned Parenthood does with mammograms is refer to other agencies for mammograms. It does not do prenatal care. It doesn’t do treatment on diabetes. It doesn’t do treatment for hypertension and arthritis.

[Constituents shouted en masse to know what paper he was reading from. I shouted with them. Walberg waited through the noise for a moment before responding.]

Walberg: CBO. CBO.CBO.

            I did not believe that the paper that Walberg had read to us was from the CBO. Right after Walberg had said it, I continued to ask to see his paper. As I did so, another constituent behind me tapped me on the shoulder to say, “He said CBO.” And I responded, “I don’t think so. That couldn’t have been.” The CBO does cost and economic analyses on proposed bills, they don’t make lists of things that are irrelevant to federal government costs.

Days Later Walberg Repeated the Claim to Constituents in Chelsea, Michigan:
Monday, March 20, 2017
Coffee Hour
Chelsea, MI
Video (32:19 mark):
Walberg: “13,000 federally qualified community health centers are there, including all over this district, and each of those provide a full, full gamut of women’s health care services, unlike Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood offers - and I was asked Saturday where I get these statistics - CBO, but more importantly, under cross examination of the president of Planned Parenthood, she had to admit they don’t do mammograms. They refer mammograms. At most they refer mammograms. Bottom line is community health centers do mammograms, they do prenatal testing and care. They do the full gamut.

Checking on Walberg’s Claims With the CBO:
The logo and content from this CBO letter do not match Walberg’s paper

            Tim Walberg asserted to constituents at two events that the document in question came from the CBO. On March 30, 2017 I called the CBO’s Office of Communications in DC. I spoke with Ryan there, and asked him if the CBO had any reports that showed Planned Parenthood did not provide services such as mammograms and prenatal care, and that Community Health Centers did provide those things. Ryan was not aware of any such reports, but he would look into it and get back to me. 

Ryan called me back on April 5th and said that he still could not find any reports that had those statements in it. He told me about two reports they’ve done about Planned Parenthood in the past few years. Neither of them supported what Tim Walberg had said though. One from September 16, 2015 was on a bill (H.R. 3134) to “defund” Planned Parenthood. The words ‘mammogram’ and ‘prenatal’ did not appear, nor did any other specific names for health treatments. The second was about the AHCA bill from March 13th, which described how Planned Parenthood would be affected by restricted Medicaid expenses. I called Walberg’s DC office on April 6th, about my, and the CBO’s difficulty in finding anyreportsto corroborate Walberg’s claims. Walberg’s staffer said that if he claimed that his document came from the CBO, “then it came from the CBO.” His two offices have assured me they will find that report and get back to me with it, and over a year later, and many follow-up calls from me about it, they still have not gotten back to me about it.


Checking on Walberg’s Claims with our Community Health Centers:

            I checked on what Walberg described as a, full, full gamut of women’s health care services, that are available in house” in our district’s community health centers. 

·      The Center for Family Health, which has several locations throughout our District, offers a Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program (BCCCP), which is part of the state’s Title XV health program. Among those services is: “Referral for mammogram, if needed”, for women aged 40-64, and they, “must meet some income requirements”. 
·      There are 24 Great Lakes Bay Community Health Centers throughout the region. Only one of those centers offers Mammograms, at Janes Street in Sagninaw, which is well outside of our District 7. 
·      The Family Medical Center of Michigan, which has several locations throughout the district, does not list mammograms among their “Medical Services Provided”, but they do offer referrals to specialists, radiology, and other laboratory testing, if needed. 

            Walberg described the Committee Hearing, when the President of Planned Parenthood, “had to admit” that they refer mammograms to specialists – it seemed like Walberg was suggesting that referrals were a bad thing. He told us that our community health centers offer a “full, full gamut” of care, “in house” including mammograms. I called his MI and DC offices to ask which community health centers in our district conduct mammograms as Walberg had told us. His staff could not name any over the phone, and they never called me back with an answer.

Services at The Center for Family Health locations throughout District 7

When I delivered an earlier draft of this report to the Congressional District office on May 2, 2017, and I asked the District Director, Stephen J. Rajzer again, which Community Health Centers in the District offer Mammograms. Rajzer responded flippantly, asking, “Do you need a mammogram?” I told him that I was serious, I wanted to know more information based on what Walberg had told us. I said that it would be valuable for me to know what kind of care is available in the District, and my Mother had just died of cancer four months earlier. Rajzer did not answer my question that day, nor has anyone from Walberg’s offices in the time since then.

Checking on Walberg’s Claims about Planned Parenthood:

            Walberg described cross-examining the President of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards at a hearing, and, she had to admit they don’t do mammograms

            Cecile Richards testified to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on September 29, 2015. It was two months after the release of five deceitfully recorded and edited hidden videos to malign Planned Parenthood. Mike Pence, Governor of Indiana at the time ordered an investigation into Planned Parenthood based on the videos. On July 30, the state concluded there wasn't any wrongdoing by the centers in Indiana. Tim Walberg still stoked vague suspicions in the hearing, “We had a lot of controversy about the videos, and yet the eyes show, but the ears even more so heard what was said.” Richards began to responded that she would like all of the source footage to be released, and Walberg interrupted, “Well we want to know too, and I think that will be an opportunity, but what we have seen so far, the ears have heard what were said (sic).” During Walberg’s questioning, he barely let Richards speak. He frequently interrupted her while she answered his questions. The following exchange is the only time that mammograms were mentioned during Walberg’s questioning:

Tuesday, September 29, 2015
House Oversight & Gov’t Reform Committee
Washington, DC
Walberg: “Emergency first responder care, mammograms, immunizations, diabetes and glaucoma screenings, cholesterol screenings, pediatric eye, ear, dental screenings, well-child services, radiological services, cardiovascular blood tests, bone mass measurement, nurse on staff, all of those according to your website - you don’t provide.

Richards: “We provide in some places, but it’s not a core service, so it depends on-“ [interruption]

Walberg: “It’s not a promised service.

Richards: “It depends on the state.

The list that Walberg read aloud in the hearing bore some similarities to the list that he read at the Coffee Hour in Adrian. However, the Adrian list mentioned Prenatal Care, Hypertension and Arthritis, which are not on the list from the hearing. I discovered that the list that Walberg read from in the hearing was created by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) a couple weeks prior to that hearing.The sources that Walberg attributed the list to in the hearing were on the ADF document. However, neither of those sources had a list like the one Walberg read in the hearing. Walberg did not attribute or credit ADF for his information. ADF is recognized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

(Left): The ADF document, markups added pointing to their sources; (Right): Walberg in the hearing

ADF is recognized as a Hate Group by The Southern Poverty Law Center:

Checking on Walberg’s Claims with Other Constituents in Our District:

            On March 31, 2017 I sent a two-page letter to Tim Walberg about my difficulty locating any information that supported what he had shared with us at the coffee hours earlier in the month. I asked for him again to specify the source of his information. That same day I decided to openly share my letter in an online forum of local constituents. I received a helpful response that the letterhead and content from Walberg’s paper matched with materials from the lobbying group, Susan B. Anthony List.

The Logo from SBA-List

Checking on Walberg’s Claims with Susan B. Anthony List:

            It was instantly apparent to me that Walberg’s document had come from Susan B. Anthony List (SBA-List). For example, on February 9, 2017, which was just one month before the Coffee Hour in Adrian, SBA-List issued a Press Release on their “Re-Direct” initiative, which contained a lot of the same language as what Walberg was telling us:


I checked on Walberg’s history with the lobbying group. He received their campaign contributions on 3 occasions totaling $4,500. Walberg had also proudly accepted SBA-List’s political endorsements and said, “I have been honored to work with them over the years.

Image from followthemoney.org, showing contributions from SBA-List to Walberg’s campaigns

Tim Walberg’s facebook page, sharing news of SBA-List’s 2016 endorsement

Press Release from SBA-List, announcing endorsement of Tim Walberg

On April 10, 2017 I called Susan B. Anthony List’s office in DC. I left a voice mail to their Legislative Director, Eric Schmitz, and he called me back the next day. I told him about the memo that my member of Congress, Tim Walberg, shared in a recent town hall. I asked if they could send me any further information on those subjects. After working out a typo in my email, on April 24th they delivered the key document that I had been looking for. I was surprised by how quick and amenable SBA-List’s response was toward a random member of the public. If only Tim Walberg was as open and responsive toward my questions as his lobbyists are.

The document that SBA-List sent to me matched exactly with the images and the content of the Walberg’s document from the Adrian event. The pdf file contained eight embedded hyperlinks to online sources, and one regular URL web link. Each of those sources are listed at the end of this report. The CBO was not cited. The CBO had nothing to do with the paper that he read aloud to us. So, Tim Walberg definitively lied about that.

Example of an embedded hyperlink in the pdf of the SBA-List document. 

            The following figure shows the key Susan B. Anthony List document followed by analysis and comparisons to the paper that Walberg read aloud to constituents. It is perfectly clear now that the document that Walberg read from in Adrian was this document. The only question now pertains to Walberg’s compulsion for lying about it to us.

SBA-List paper sent to congress members matches the paper that Walberg read to us

Document Comparisons:

Visual Comparison:
Walberg’s paper at Adrian event (left), and the paper that SBA-List sent to congress (right)

Textual Comparison:
Text from SBA-List paper (top), and transcript of Walberg reading from paper (bottom)

Checking with Tim Walberg at the Luna Pier Coffee Hour:
The Sign I displayed from the front row at the Luna Pier event

Tim Walberg responding to my question at the Coffee Hour in Luna Pier (April 7, 2017)

Friday, April 7, 2017
Coffee Hour
Luna Pier, MI
Video of this exchange: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yX-CfcN4IGo
Mayor David Davison (moderator): “This is from Steven in Monroe: Last month, at your Coffee Hour in Adrian, did the information you read to us about Planned Parenthood come from a memo by the lobbying group, Susan B. Anthony List, or from the CBO as you said to us?

Walberg: “It came from CBO. It came Congressional Research, uh, Office(sic). It came from, uh, the President of Planned Parenthood herself who sat in front of us in a hearing in the committee, and said, ‘we do not provide mammograms, we refer mammograms, we don’t-’” [interruption]

Heckler: “None of your clinics in the 7th District offer mammograms.” 

[The heckler was referring to community health clinics. Walberg took her point as meaning Planned Parenthood’s clinics. Then he agreed with his own misunderstanding.]

Walberg: “Absolutely. That was my point. Planned Parenthood doesn’t do mammograms.”
Heckler: “But neither do-”[interruption]

Mayor Davison: “Ma’am-”

[I heckled some follow-up questions to steer back to my original question.]

Steven: “Was that paper from the Susan B. Anthony List?”

Walberg: “No that paper wasn’t from Susan B. Anthony List.”

Steven: “I could see the letterhead though, and it resembled the Susan B. Anthony List. I have images from it. I filmed it.” 

Walberg: “I think I’ve answered the question of the facts, regardless of what you thought you saw, or not.”

[Walberg then turned away from me, toward the Mayor, who proceeded to the next question. I leaned back in my seat and muttered:“Bullshit.”

[Note: see video for full exchange]

The Monroe News Report of the Luna Pier Event:

            Ray Kisonas of The Monroe News approached me at the Luna Pier event and asked about my exchange with Walberg. I was happy to talk to the reporter and gave him an early draft of this report, my name, and my contact information. At that time, I had not yet obtained a copy of the SBA-List document, but I had put together enough pieces for The Monroe News to do their own following up reporting. The Monroe News never did any reporting into the substance of what I told them, and when they printed the story, their article somehow confused me with a different person. That error is also in their online article:

Saturday, April 8, 2017
The Monroe News
Monroe, MI
Monroe News report of the Luna Pier event, which misattributed my comments to someone else

Walberg Plagiarized from the SBA-List Memo Again in an AHCA Press Release:
Thursday, May 4, 2017
Walberg’s Press Release
on the AHCA
Enlargements and highlights from SBA-List memo, and Walberg’s Official House Press Release

I could not find anything in the AHCA bill that the House passed on May 4, 2017 that would have the effect of “redirecting Planned Parenthood dollars”, i.e. Medicaid reimbursements, “to community health centers”, which would, as Walberg described, “expand access to health services”.

There was nothing in the AHCA bill that could be described as doing that, which demonstrates that Walberg did not base his remarks on the Bill that he had voted on, but on the lobbyist memo that he received from Susan B. Anthony List on their “Re-Direct” initiative.

A Pattern of Walberg Lying to Constituents that his Sources are from the CBO:
At the two events in August, Walberg lied that this health chart came from the CBO

The Susan B. Anthony List memo was not the only time that Walberg lied to constituents in Town Halls that a document that he was presenting to us had been produced by the CBO. For years, Tim Walberg has presented a deliberately confusing health care chart, that was produced by GOP Congress members and their staff. Walberg did not tell any of us at those town halls where the chart was actually produced. At the two most recent events in August, Walberg flat out lied to us that the chart was produced by the CBO, just as he had done with the Susan B. Anthony List memo.

Link for my full report with sources on Walberg and that health care chart:

Conclusion

            I was very disturbed and shaken up by Walberg’s response at the Luna Pier event when he lied to my face, and tried to belittle me in front of the crowd by questioning my ability to see. I still don’t even understand what his motivation was to lie about this one document. If he believes that Susan B. Anthony List is a credible source for information, then why wouldn’t he have just been honest with us from the beginning? “Here look, this information comes from Susan B. Anthony List. I have been honored to work with them over the years. They’re very reliable.

The direction of this research was led by Tim Walberg’s own statements, which shows how misleading his statements are. When he said his document was from the CBO - I checked the CBO - Walberg lied. When he said our community health centers provide mammograms - I checked those centers - Walberg lied. When he said that Cecile Richards had to admit in the committee hearing that their centers don’t provide mammograms – I checked that committee hearing – Walberg lied about another document in that hearing.

In the time since I turned in the first draft of this report to Walberg’s office, I have not heard back from him or his staff about these findings. I submitted a second copy to their office a few months later, and reiterated that I would like for them to respond to me about it. I specified that I was not even looking for them to agree with my conclusions. It would actually please me if they could point out any mistakes that I had made. I would prefer that, because it is not pleasant for me to think that my Congress person is such a corrupt liar. 

Steven Meyer
Michigan District 7

May 2, 2017 (First Draft Submitted to Walberg’s Office)
July 29, 2018 (Expanded and Revised Draft)

---
Appendix: The 8 Sources Hyperlinked to from the Susan B. Anthony List document:
(None of which are the CBO, or the Congressional Research Service)


1) Planned Parenthood’s 2014-2015 Annual Report:

2) A Newsvine Article:

3) A Washington Times Article:

4) A Record of a Referral by the House Energy and Commerce Committee:

5) A Report by SBA-List’s own Charlotte Lozier Institute:

6) A PR Newswire release about a Robert Morris University Poll:

7) A Huffington Post Article:

8) Planned Parenthood’s About Us Page: 

3 comments:

  1. Thank you, Steve. I am very grateful for your dedication and the extensive time you put into each and every report.
    - Chris Chickeral -

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great research here, Steven. I too am disturbed by the lies. It's pretty obvious to me that Walberg knows his sources are sketchy if not completely false and is attempting to validate them by claiming the CBO produced them. That should scare us all. Thanks so much for following this through. I hope a lot of people get a chance to read this.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is a smart blog. I mean it. You have so much knowledge about this issue, and so much passion. You also know how to make people rally behind it, obviously from the responses. Private Investigator Cape Town

    ReplyDelete